Dow sees 42-point drop
Stocks finished mostly lower on Monday, with the S&P 500 index ending a five-session winning streak, as lawmakers readied to debate what is being called the “fiscal cliff.”
“It’s like coming back to earth in terms of reality sinking back in. We started this with a lot of good feelings and nice words, but coming to a real deal is a lot harder,” Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management Group, said of White House and congressional efforts to reach a budget deal.
“We wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t get a deal until next year, though no doubt they are going to try. But they are further away than the early good rhetoric would have made you feel,” Stone added.
Stock indexes came off session lows, with the Nasdaq composite index turning positive after Bloomberg News reported the European Central Bank was receptive to the idea of giving up its profits on Greek debt.
The reported move is “a likely step closer to getting a deal amongst the troika on Greece,” wrote Peter Boockvar, an equity strategist at Miller Tabak, in emailed comments.
After a 109-point drop, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 42.31 points, or 0.3 percent, to end at 12,967.37.
UnitedHealth Group Inc. fell 0.7 percent after the insurer and Dow component projected 2013 profit lower than Wall Street estimates.
The S&P 500 declined 2.86 points, or 0.2 percent, at 1,406.29.
Bucking the negative trend, the Nasdaq gained 9.93 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,976.78, with shares of social-networking firm Facebook Inc. rallying 8.1 percent. Shares of iPhone and iPad maker Apple Inc. rose 3.2 percent.
Oil prices declined along with equities, with crude futures for January delivery down 54 cents at $87.74 a barrel.
Wii U has big start
Nintendo says it has sold more than 400,000 of its new video game console, the Wii U, in its first week on sale in the U.S.
The Wii U launched on Nov. 18 in the U.S. at a starting price of $300. Nintendo says the sales figure, based on internal estimates, is through Nov. 24.
Six years ago, Nintendo Co. sold 475,000 of the original Wii in that console’s first seven days in stores. The original Wii remains available, and Nintendo says it sold more than 300,000 of them last week, along with roughly 250,000 hand-held Nintendo 3DS units and about 275,000 of the Nintendo DS.
Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter estimates that Nintendo will ship 1 million to 1.5 million Wii Us in the U.S. through the end of January.
Buffett shares views
Billionaire Warren Buffett is again calling for higher taxes on the “ultrarich” and he’s urging Congress to compromise on spending cuts and tax increases.
Buffett expressed his views on fiscal policy Monday in an opinion article that appeared in the New York Times on the same day Congress returned from the Thanksgiving holiday.
In the article, Buffett mocked the idea that investors would pull back if capital gains taxes increase. Buffett said he’s never seen that happen even when capital gains taxes above 25 percent early in his investing career.
Sands to pay dividend
Casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. plans to pay a special dividend of $2.75, distributing about $2.26 billion to its shareholders by the end of the year. The company says the dividend will be payable Dec. 18 to shareholders of record on Dec. 10. Chairman Sheldon Adelson says returning capital to shareholders is a priority for the company.
The casino operator is the latest company to move up its quarterly payout or issue a special end-of-year payment to protect investors from potentially having to pay higher taxes on dividend income starting in January. Las Vegas Sands runs casinos in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania, Singapore and Macau. The company had 823.4 million shares on the market as of Nov. 1.
GE buys Colo. firm
General Electric Co.’s lighting unit, based in East Cleveland, has agreed to buy closely held Albeo Technologies Inc., a maker of energy efficient light-emitting diode fixtures. GE Lighting will acquire Boulder, Colo.-based Albeo to add to its fixture portfolio and enhance its offerings to its commercial customers. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Customers want GE-quality LED systems in “as many areas as possible” because “the energy and maintenance savings opportunities are huge,” Albeo said in a statement.
Compiled from staff and wire reports